Â Â Â The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial just can’t catch a break.Â
Twenty-five years in the making, the $120 million, 30 foot statueÂ set on 4 acres near the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin may have its official, opening day ceremonies spoiled by Hurricane IreneÂ but if that were the only element toÂ tarnish the festivities it would be a blessing to King’s memory and his admirers.Â
The fact the representation of King, eleven feet taller than the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials,Â was incongruously placed on the National Mall as the only monument not memorializing an American president or our fallen soldiers wouldn’t dismay those admirers who would think that all very fitting and proper but other facts could and should dismay them.
Â For example, the sculpture makes him look more like a ticked-off, giantÂ Buddha than a black revolutionary, which is understandable in view of another fact, thatÂ the 16 ton statueÂ was carved out of Chinese granite by Lei Yixin, a master sculptor from China’s Yunan province who includes on his resume’ two renderings of the late Chinese dictator, Chairman Mao Zedong.Â
One would have thought that King’s family would have insisted on an African-American sculptor to reflect his heritage and labors on behalf of blacks in America but one would then be wrong.Â His son, Martin Luther King III, is very supportive and claims,Â ”This particular artist: he has done a good job.”Â
Some non-family members have disagreed and protested that he would be “turning over in his grave” if he knew the truth. (http://tgr.ph/qAzu0P)Â Â Â Â Â Â
Of course, the King family has a vested interest, in addition toÂ the obvious, in the memorial.
Financing for the project came principally from fundraisersÂ at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National MonumentÂ Foundation which has paid over $832,000 to the King familyÂ and their various legal entitiesÂ over the lastÂ eight years alone, payments charged to the foundation “for the use of his words and image.”Â
Whether MLK, Jr. would roll over in his grave at that revelation by the New York Post is speculative but Cambridge University historian David Garrow, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of King, believes he would’ve been “absolutely scandalized” atÂ his family’s greed.Â (http://tgr.ph/qAzu0P)
Were those tribulations the only defilements of King’s memorial and memory, he could rest easily.Â However, his black successors have also sullied what he strove for.Â Â
As discussed in “It’s Not Easy Being White Today,” (http://bit.ly/qixugj), the most visibleÂ beneficiary of King’s Civil Rights struggles, President Barack Hussein Obama, recently demeanedÂ both King and his movement by re-instituting sanctioned, governmental discrimination and officially revokedÂ King’s dream.Â The color of a person’s skin is again paramount and the content of a person’s character is irrelevant, as per Obama’s executive order.Â
Â Â IfÂ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sincerely believed what he preached, he would dismiss as relativelyÂ inconsequential a Chinese Communist sculpting his statue and disregard as mere swinishness his family’s rapaciousness.Â What might get him to not just turn over in his grave but leap out of it in protest is one of his ownÂ burying his dream.